If you have separated parents (or the blessed fortune of having a ‘weekend home’), you’ll know the pain, pleasure and relentless packing that accompanies a life lived between two houses.

The good news is, it gets better – or rather, you get better at it as the years go by. The bad news is that by the time you leave home(s) you’ll be such a pro at the two-house thing you’ll genuinely struggle to adjust to living in one…

It’s at the other house

Whatever it is, it’s at the other house when you need it. It could be small or large, life-enhancing (eyeliner) or as a essential as your beating heart (phone charger): cometh the hour, cometh the moment you realise you know EXACTLY where it is, and it’s about 12 miles away, along the A22.

You can see it in your mind’s eye. You distinctly remember looking at it and thinking, ‘I shan’t forget you my friend,’ then getting a distracting WhatsApp and never looking back. My advice to you would be ensure everyone in your family has the same phone (if they haven’t already), and to make steps toward implementing the below scenario immediately.

You have double of everything…

Like a material Noah’s Ark, if it’s necessary to your life you’ve got it doubled – whether it’s toothbrush, pyjamas, hair brush or wellies. But unlike Noah’s Ark, the crucial difference between them is that one is always older and lamer than the duplicate: Little Mermaid pyjamas and a toothbrush that more closely resembles your doormat, for example, versus an electric number and some snazzy shorts from New Look.
The trick is balance: you can bear the fact your pants at mum’s have all the days of the week on them in fluorescent colours, as long as you’ve got a room with half decent wifi access and GHDs at her house. In the end though, you will probably end up lugging the best stuff between the two.

…except when you don’t

The day you need to watch Sky will be the day you’re at the house which has never had Sky, never will, and why-do -you-want-Sky-anyway-read-a-book. This is less of an issue in the giddy age of Netflix, but the principle also extends to Freeview, games consoles and the good telly. If only it were so easy to blag a second 34 inch flat HD screen of your parents as it is a spare hair dryer and extra sandals.

Breakfast becomes a whole new ball game

Once the most predictable of meals, breakfast steps up a gear when you’re confronted with two homes, each with a different cereal offering. Some cool kids might disagree, but other than “Saturday” I can’t think of a better realisation to have before 8am than ”I’m at Mum’s! That means crunchy nut cornflakes instead of Weetabix!”

Do try to resist playing one parent off against the other on the cereal front, though. Tempting as it is, there’s only so far you can milk it before they cotton on and you’re stuck with plain porridge at both houses for weeks. Blurgh.

You’ve got a ready-made homework excuse

A trembling lip, one solitary tear, and a shaky voice announcing “mum and dad are separated and I left it at Mum’s and I was at Dad’s last night I’m so sorry” works wonders when it comes to letting you off the hook for that maths homework you clean forgot to do last night. Ditto PE kit and musical instruments.

A word of warning however: while rivers of sympathy run deep for the kids of divorces, they do dry up eventually. Try to limit your abuse of your home situation to a maximum of once or twice a term, and to target different teachers each time.

ALSO: this does not work for those of who have a weekend home. You can try it, but if the idea of you leaving your Key Stage 6 textbook by the pool in Provence elicits pity on the part of your teachers, they’re a softer lot than mine…

You live your life out of a holdall

Before reading Jacqueline Wilson’s The Suitcase Kid, I thought me and my brother were the only ones in the world whose lives could be reduced to a single Reebok holdall. Now I realise there’s a whole tribe of us out there, lugging homework, school shoes, chargers and at least five potential Saturday night outfits from one house to the next.

Our necklaces are never not tangled into a knots; our earrings haunt the depths of the bag like bright sea creatures, to be expertly fished out when required; and our tights bear the scars of always, always getting caught in the zip.

You become a master of packing

See above. Where lesser mortals spend days deliberating over how many knickers and what size of body lotion they’ll need for a trip, you pack like a woman on the run from police: ready to leave at a minute’s notice when the sirens sound. By the time they’ve located their adaptor plug, you’re halfway to Rio.

It’s a niche skill, true, but it will stand you in good stead next time you’re late for a plane or decide to engage in some serious crime.


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Eeeeeee! You’re off on your hols! Now you’ve just got to pop a few things in a case and you’re good to go. Easy right? Um…

1. The essential research

Yes there may only be two hours left before you head to the airport. And yes… TECHNICALLY the best use of your time would probs be to locate your passport. But when you analyse the situation properly, it’s pretty obvious that a few well-chosen YouTube videos are defo the best call right now. I mean, Anna from TheAnnaEdit even gives you a packing list to print off. That’s only going to save time in the long run. And yes there’s a high probability you’ll waste 20 minutes paused on a shot of the Chloe backpack Zoella uses as her hand luggage. But that all counts as holiday packing inspiration… right?

2. The sensible start

Having watched a few minutes (OK, an hour) of videos, you’ve landed on the perfect approach for a stylish, grown-up holidayer like yourself. The capsule wardrobe. Just a few key, super-chic pieces that you’ll effortlessly combine into endless instagram-worthy outfits. All while feeling oh-so-smug that you can close your case without having to sit on it. Just a few essential base items to find, then. Crisp white shirt. Black maxi-dress. Breton striped tee. You’re sure you have something like that somewhere…

3. The first clothes explosion

OK you’ve rooted to the very depths of your wardrobe and sorry but who actually OWNS this stuff?!! I mean, a crisp white shirt? Really? When you’re going to be smothered in sun cream most of the time anyway? Totally ridiculous. And now you’re no further along and your wardrobe has become a floordrobe. Ugh.

4. The pack-by-numbers approach

What if you just count how many days you’re going to be away for and then work out how many of each item you’ll need? OK pants. Two weeks away equals 14 pants. Plus 7 extra pants for evenings out, maybe 4 extra pants for period disasters, minus 6 – no, 10 – no, 8 pants for when you’re wearing a bikini, plus… THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! And let’s not even get started on how British people are conditioned to pack for every possible weather eventuality. So now your suitcase is full of 34 pairs of pants and approximately 450 tops of varying thickness, while the things you actually wanted to take – like that ah-may-zing Bardot playsuit – are still festering in your floordrobe.

5. The outfit repack 

OK, everything out. That means you, too, seventh identical vest top. Only your favourite pieces are going in this time. Screw practicality. This is about JOY. In fact, on second thoughts, why not go full-on fashionista and style up each piece into an outfit, complete with accessories and shoes? Great idea. But there’s only 40 minutes until you have to be in the car. So you’re going to have to be an efficient fashionista. An efficienista!

6. The Snapchat fashion show

Packing efficiently is fun and all (OK it’s really, really not) but how are you supposed to decide what makes the cut without a little reminder of what everything looks like on? And you probs need a second opinion, too right? Time for a Snapchat fashion show. For your besties’ eyes only. Extra friend points for convincing you to pack the things you’ve always been too scared to wear.

7. The snack break

Because making good packing/fashion/life decisions requires healthy levels of Nutella in your bloodstream.

8. The realisation

Perfect. All your favourite items are styled up and packed. You’ve even managed to squeeze in some pants, too. Just need to wrestle with that zip, get this bad boy closed and we’re all – GAH! Clothes are not the only thing you need on holiday! What about books, chargers, hair stylers… MAKEUP for god’s sake?! Which means you’ve only got 30 minutes to decide which of your Rimmel lipsticks make up the perfect holiday arsenal. And yep, turns out that it’s all of them. All 14 of them. And you need all three of your nude eyeshadow palettes, too.

9. The negotiation

In which you offer your little brother the airplane window seat, full control of the hire car’s Bluetooth sound system, and first pick of the bedrooms at the villa, in return for stuffing three cosmetic bags into his suitcase.

10. The panic shove

Books and GHDs safely stowed in your hand luggage, you’ve now got 20 minutes for final suitcase checks. And suddenly you can’t remember for the life of you what you packed. Did that fringed jacket make it in in the end? Did you pack any sunnies? Crap did you even pack PJs? There’s only one solution at this stage. Just grab whatever’s left on your bed and SHOVE. IT. IN.

11. The fight with the scales

This delightful cycle involves obsessively weighing and reweighing your case, slowly replacing totally unnecessary items like toothpaste and deodorant with essential items of the same weight (like a fifth bikini) until your case weighs exactly the 20kg allowed by the airline.

12. The passport panic

Goddamn it Zoella! Why did you have to flaunt that beauteous green leather masterpiece on the internet? And why did I strop at dad last year about how I’m a grown woman perfectly capable of keeping my passport in my own room? Why did he BELIEVE me? WHEREISITWHEREISITWHEREISIIIIITTT???!

10 minutes and one room that looks like it’s been burgled later, you find your passport in the outside pocket of your suitcase. Of course. Where else would a grown woman keep it?

13. The airport outfit

Awesome. Suitcase locked with three minutes to spare. You are a packing master. But wait, what’s that ASOS bag peeking out from the carnage? Nooooooo. Four holiday ESSENTIALS that simply can’t be left behind. And now your mum’s calling you to get in the car. Arrghhhh! OK screw it. Your airport outfit has just got an upgrade. And you’re going to rock it. After all, what says ‘I’m going on holiday!’ more clearly than embroidered denim dungarees teamed with neon pom pom sandals, a leopard print beach kaftan, and a huge sunhat? Nothing, that’s what.

Happy holidays!


It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton